HARD AGROUND - Wreck of the Exxon Valdez - March 24, 1989

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Click here for the Daily News' 1999 Exxon Valdez series "Legacy of a Spill."

It's been 10 years since Capt. Joe Hazelwood radioed the Coast Guard to report the Exxon Valdez had "fetched up hard aground" and was "evidently leaking some oil." (Radio message, 408k WAV)

That scratchy, understated message set the scene for one of the worst human-caused environmental disasters in history. Over the next spring and summer, the news in Alaska and around the world was dominated by images and stories from Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska - thousands of dead and dying birds and sea mammals, angry fishermen, armies of rock wipers improbably cleaning beaches with rags.

Disillusioned Alaskans railed at the industry's failed pledge to transport oil safely and to clean it up once it spilled, and at the government's dereliction as watchdog.

A decade later, what has happened to the 11 million gallons of oil lost in Alaska's waters, to the wildlife of Prince William Sound, to the blackened wilderness beaches, to the people whose lives were altered, perhaps forever?

How has industry changed, and are government and private citizen oversight any better? For that matter, where is Hazelwood now, or the Exxon Valdez? Long after the national media moved on to the next crisis, the Anchorage Daily News chronicled the repercussions of the oil spill - in Prince William Sound, in the homes of fishermen, in the courtrooms and in the laboratories.

This on-line retrospective of the Exxon Valdez oil spill brings to light the ongoing record of the past 10 years, giving voice to the words and light to the images that have told this story for Alaska from a perspective that no other news organization can provide.

   
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